SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Pete father Maress Scott has made it his mission in life to take the tragedy of his son's murder, and use it for good.
"They said you need to get to the hospital, your son has been shot. I became so horrified," said Scott.
Marquis was Scott's youngest son, the young man was shot while riding his bike in St.Pete in September of 2019.
According to a pediatric study in the New England Journal of Medicine, gun violence is the second leading cause of death of children ages 0-17 in the U.S.
And the numbers continue to reach record highs. Children and teens killed or injured by guns climbed from nearly 3,500 in 2018 to more than 5,000 in 2020, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive organization.
Just this week, a 9-year-old girl was shot by a 15-year-old during a fight at a Tampa park.
"When we start talking about 15-year-old juveniles and 9-year-old victims it leads to pause. I think as a society we need to find a better answer for what we’re seeing here," said Les Richardson, Tampa Police Captain.
And it's an answer that Scott has been seeking since his son’s death.
"I didn’t want another family to feel the way we felt," said Scott.
Scott says faith has helped him use his darkest moment to shine a light on the problem.
"I knew in order for us to grow we had to utilize our faith in God and it demanded we forgive and love," said Scott.
Scott says that led him to create the "Quis For Life," an initiative with a play on his son's name. Now the father, who works the graveyard at a local plant, uses any waking moments in classrooms and rec centers to educate kids about gun violence.
"To make kids fully aware of who is all affected when one kid murders another. Not just the family of the victim but even the family of the shooters, the teachers, the coaches, and the other students that are in that kid's life," said Scott.
He also talks to them about how drugs, alcohol, and the “no snitch” culture play a role in hurting others. He says his mission is to help kids pledge against gun violence, in hopes that his son’s tragic death, may give life to others.